School Crossing Patrol Operatives, as they’re also known, have been a common sight on UK roads since they were first adopted widely back in the 1950s.
Their role is simple - they have the power to stop traffic in order to allow children to cross the road safely.
And to do that securely they’re backed up by the DVLA’s ‘TS60’ regulation, which means ‘Failing to comply with a school crossing patrol sign’.
Should you try to sneak through while the lollipop operative is making his or her way into the road, you risk being hit with an immediate three points on your licence, which stays there for four years.
And the legislation is also backed up by Rule 87 of the Highway Code - which states that drivers must stop when asked to do so by a school crossing patrol.
Again, failure to do so is an offence under the 1984 Road Traffic Act and your libel for prosecution and a fine.
Yet despite lollipop operatives doing an important job of keeping our youngsters safe, there are still those in the UK who risk lives by ignoring them.
A new Freedom of Information Request to the DVLA from leading UK vehicle leasing firm Select Car Leasing found 13 prosecutions for TS60 violations in the last three years alone, hitting a peak in 2019 when four drivers were collared.
Graham Conway of Select Car Leasing explains:
“The number of prosecutions are, mercifully, low compared with other road offences, yet it’s still shocking that some motorists - ‘lollipop lunatics’, as we’ve dubbed them - still feel that they’re in such a rush to get to where they need to be that they can ignore a school crossing patrol operative.
“The potential consequences of a driver turning a blind eye to what are often large groups of children waiting to cross the road are obviously grave indeed. And the fact that there are any prosecutions of this nature whatsoever speaks to the selfishness and ignorance of a small minority of those who get behind the wheel.”
The UK’s first ‘lollipop lady’ is credited with being Mary Hunt, a school caretaker from Bath, Somerset, who took it upon herself to start stopping traffic for school children in 1937.
By the 1950s, more and more councils were recruiting ‘lollipoppers’ to keep youngsters safe on their way to the classroom.
And the 1953 School Crossing Patrol Act extended the idea nationally.
Significant change, however, came with the Transport Act 2000.
It may have changed the law so that a patroller had the authority to stop the traffic for any pedestrian - which included both parents and children - but it also meant that school crossing patrol operatives were no longer a legal requirement for schools.
Since then, the number of lollipoppers has fallen.
Recent figures issued by the GMB union suggested there were around 5,000 operatives employed by councils in England, Wales and Scotland.
And while the operatives themselves have decreased, there has been a reported increase in aggressive behaviour towards them by drivers, prompting many to be issued with cameras.
Speaking in 2020, a spokesperson for the road safety charity Brake said:
“Lollipop people provide a vital service, helping children cross roads safely on their way to school and offering a friendly face that encourages walking and cycling.
“Cuts to council funding are impacting on the safety of our roads and the loss of lollipop people is a troubling sign of this trend. The safety of children should not be compromised and we need to see more investment in safe routes to school, with 20mph speed limits and safe segregated space to walk and cycle.”
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